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Nashville - Beneath Still Waters - Review: "The Light That Shines Through"

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“Beneath Still Waters” changed up the narrative style a little by focusing on three subplots, which worked well in not overwhelming the viewers, but that was sort of it. While I mentioned in my preview that the extra time was a benefit for each subplot as there was only one that annoyed me, I may have been generalized too much. What I meant to say, but couldn’t without giving too much away, was that there was only one subplot that I wouldn’t have minded fast forwarding through. For the record, that’s everything and anything concerning Scarlett and her volunteering at the ranch. Before I watched the episode, I was looking forward to both the supergroup plot and the handling of Deacon and Daphne’s relationship. However, the supergroup arc mainly focused on Gunnar making the same mistakes viewers have seen for the past six seasons, and Deacon and Jessie’s relationship was clumsily handled when it came to Daphne. I’ve been glad that the writers are acknowledging their children’s’ feelings, but this episode only showed how much sooner the conversation between Jessie and Daphne needed to happen. So without ado, let’s dive in.

The episode opens with Daphne trying to convince Maddie to come to some art walk thing with her, so she won’t have to be alone with Deacon, Jessie, and Jake. In Daphne’s mind, she’s being dragged around like some little girl. It doesn’t help matters that Daphne and Jake are essentially third and fourth wheels while their parents enjoy the art walk thing. I mean, nothing says entertained like constantly staring at your phone the entire time. Then when Daphne makes a “rude” comment about how she wishes she had other plans, Deacon gets upset. It’s like she didn’t want to come in the first place, and when she expresses her desire to leave, Deacon interprets that as mocking Jessie. And then while out on his date with Jessie, Deacon can’t get over how rude Daphne was, even though Jessie clearly isn’t that affected. Apparently, in the Conrad/James/Clayborne household they treat people with respect. However, considering Daphne’s entire world has been turned upside down over the past year and she’s a teenager, she’s been pretty respectful in my opinion. Deacon then decides he wants to force the issue by confronting Daphne about it, which is definitely the wrong approach to take. Jessie is spot on when she says that Daphne will just end up hating her, but Deacon can’t let it go. Instead of letting things play out naturally and in good time, he wants Daphne and Jessie to be super close all of a sudden. He wants Daphne to come out with him and Jessie, so they can get to know each other a little better, which is fine, but Daphne feels like she’s a little kid being dragged around. I get where Deacon’s coming from, but his execution of the situation leaves a lot to be desired. He is an amazing father, no doubt, but he has no idea what it’s actually like to be a teenage girl. His intentions for wanting Daphne and Jessie to get along are admirable, but he goes about it the wrong way. Forcing Daphne and Jessie to spend quality time together isn’t going to do anything but make Daphne resent Jessie even more. It also doesn’t help that Maddie is seemingly excused from this forced bonding experience, only furthering Daphne’s belief that she’s being treated like a little kid. Yes, Maddie has been more accepting of Deacon’s relationship with Jessie, but by letting her skip the art walk and the family dinner, it just seems like Daphne isn’t responsible enough to be let alone. Like she’ll somehow burn the house down if she’s left to her own devices.

So instead of letting them get to know each other on Daphne’s terms, Deacon decides to further force the issue by having one big awkward family dinner, which turns out exactly how everyone, but Deacon, expects with Daphne abruptly leaving the table, and I can’t say I blame her. Even though Deacon wants to go after her, Jessie convinces him to give her a shot, which leads to a heartfelt and much needed conversation between Jessie and Daphne. Jessie tells Daphne she never felt like she was worth much of anything, so she made most of her decisions out of fear, which turned out to be a complete disaster. Jessie’s determined not to do that anymore, but she’s still afraid of screwing everything up, so she feels like she’s gone about getting to know Daphne the wrong way. She thinks Daphne is an incredible person and a talented musician, but by being with Deacon, she feels like she’s messing up his relationship with Daphne. This was a conversation that desperately needed to happen, with Daphne needing to hear those words from Jessie and not Deacon. While Jessie has made it clear from the beginning she’s not Rayna and isn’t trying to replace the late Queen of Country, she’ll only ever expressed those sentiments to Deacon and Scarlett. Daphne needed to hear that Jessie isn’t trying to replace Rayna, she couldn’t and she wouldn’t, and she’s not trying to take Deacon away from Daphne. Even though Daphne already knew that, she still needed to that reassurance from the woman who is now dating her father. Deacon has enough room in his heart for all of them – Maddie and Daphne and Rayna and Jessie. While I’m glad this conversation finally happened, I feel like it needed to take place sooner. Deacon’s been very upfront and open about his relationship with Jessie, which is good, but he hasn’t really addressed Daphne’s fears. A lot of Daphne’s worries and concerns could have been addressed if only the two of them had talked it out. I get that Deacon didn’t want to tell the girls anything until he was sure if it was something real, but he should have sat Daphne down after she ran into the couple getting coffee and reassured her. While we’ve debated whether 11 months after losing the love of your life is too to start dating, we haven’t really touched upon how your children would feel. For them, it’s way too soon for their father to be dating, even if they want him to be happy. So Deacon and Jessie really should have sat down Maddie, Daphne, and Jake and just explained everything that was going on, instead of trying to talk to their children individually.

And Gunnar once again proves just how much of an idiot he can be. Gunnar and Alannah makes plans for Gunnar to come by her place and she’ll play him a couple of her songs, which sounds like a nonevent except it’s Gunnar and an attractive woman who just so happens to be a talented singer-songwriter, so you know it’s not going to be just a casual get-together. As Gunnar’s getting ready for his “non-date,” he repeatedly tells Will it’s not like that, but Will, who’s not stupid, knows it’s not going to be strictly platonic, reminding Gunnar of what happened last time he slept with a band member. Despite Gunnar promising he won’t be an idiot, he most definitely is one. Even with sparks flying as Alannah plays a hauntingly beautiful song, he initially manages to leave without doing something stupid. There’s a moment before Gunnar bolts where it’s like something would have happened if he had stayed, but, with Will’s voice still in his head, he couldn’t get out of there fast enough. However, he then decides the idiotic thing would be to not hook up with Alannah, so he makes the decision to go back. He even tries to talk himself out of it while things are getting hot and heavy, but he doesn’t really put in any effort, just relying on Alannah’s reassurances that things don’t have to be complicated. While Alannah just wants Gunnar to keep things casual, complicated and entangled are Gunnar’s default settings. He just doesn’t seem to get the idea of no strings attached, as he keeps going on about how he’s not ready for a relationship, but it’s clear to everyone except him that this is just supposed to be fun. As for their sexcapades remaining their little secret, no one would have known except Gunnar has the worst poker face on the planet. It literally took Will and Avery a day to figure out that Gunnar hooked up with Alannah, which actually may be some kind of record. Again, Avery reiterates Band 101 to Gunnar: You don’t sleep with your bandmates. Once again, Gunnar seems ready to ignore his friends’ warnings when he finds himself alone with Alannah in a bar after their latest gig. They have some flirty banter and it seems like they’re about to repeat their mistake, but Alannah leaves by herself, completely confusing Gunnar. Even though Alannah told him this thing would be casual, he didn’t really get that until he finds himself going home alone, and he still probably doesn’t. As great of a guy Gunnar is, he keeps making the same mistakes. Him sleeping with Alannah is going to end badly; the only question is when, not if.

Besides the obvious drama of Gunnar not being able to keep it in his pants, the still untitled supergroup also has to deal with sharing the spotlight. After the band’s performance “Where the Night Goes,” the band’s Twitter account is blowing up with love for Alannah. However, her meteoric rise to fame doesn’t stop there. Just minutes after the band plays a gig, Brad hands Alannah his card, saying a woman with her talent shouldn’t be surrounding herself with “boys,” even if they are her friends. Even though Alannah has bigger aspirations than simply being a backup singer, she really shouldn’t accept Brad’s offer to be the only friend she’ll ever need. I get that she came to Nashville to be a singer-songwriter, but taking Brad up on his officer is literally the last thing anyone should do. It’s would be like making a deal with the devil, but only worse. OK, they may be a tad hyperbolic, but you get the point. So while Gunnar is obviously over the moon about Alannah joining the group, not everyone feels the same way. Avery thinks it’s good people are talking about them, but Will’s not convinced. He says they just figured out their sound and adding another voice could screw everything up. While it’s not exactly how they imagined it, Avery says they would be stupid not to try. Then during band rehearsal, Will is again unsure of this new band dynamic, even though Gunnar and Avery thought they sounded great. And toward the end of the episode, he once again voices his concerns, telling Gunnar he’s not sure which one of them will regret Alannah joining the band more. It’s evident that Will isn’t the biggest fan of Alannah joining the band, but this episode didn’t really answer the unasked question of why. Will was all for adding a female voice last episode, but in “Beneath Still Waters,” he’s having second thoughts. He has no idea that Brad gave Alannah his card, so his attitude toward her doesn’t really make sense. My best guess is that Will is insecure about having to share the spotlight with someone else. As we’ve seen with his steroid use, he’s trying so hard to be the picture perfect country singer, so when someone else starts getting attention, he’s immediately threatened. After Zach helped catapult his career, sharing any sort of spotlight, especially when he’s never had to, must be difficult. Until now, Will has always been a solo act, with this band being the first time he’s part of a group. However, he has got to get over his issues and find a way to make it work. The band doesn’t need the added drama of Will’s insecurity, what with Gunnar sleeping with Alannah and Avery having to deal with the tsunami that is Juliette.

And then we have Scarlett who still can’t leave well enough alone. After seeing Sean interact with a woman and a baby, her interest is piqued. We learn from Dale, Sean’s aunt, that he is a talented musician, but came back from war broken after seeing and hearing things no should see or hear. The woman is his high school sweetheart and wife, and Dale isn’t sure how much longer his wife can wait. So after Googling the symptoms of PTSD, because that’s what everyone does in their free time, Scarlett decides to Facebook stalk Sean and finds a video of him playing music with a friend at his high school graduation. I mean it’s one thing to cyberstalk a guy you’re remotely curious about, but it’s an entire thing altogether to bring said guy, who you don’t even know that well, back to your place when he’s drunk, which is exactly what Scarlett does after finding a drunken Sean late at night. In his drunken state, Sean tells Scarlett her voice was the prettiest thing he’s heard in a long time, and Scarlett “guesses” that music means a lot to him. Upon wondering how Scarlett knew, she admits to cyberstalking Sean and seeing his graduation performance, instead of, I don’t know, telling him his aunt mentioned it. I mean, Dale does seem like the talkative type, based on her interactions with Scarlett and revealing some intimate details about Sean’s past. However, Sean refuses to watch his graduation performance with Billy. We then learn the major reason for Sean’s PTSD, besides the obvious trauma of war: He watched his best friend die right in front of him. Since losing Billy, Sean doesn’t play another. Playing music afterward is probably too painful for Sean. Billy was his best friend and playing music was something they did together, so every time Sean picks up a guitar or sings, it’s a constant reminder that Billy isn’t there anymore. While Scarlett tells Sean it doesn’t help anyone if you give up what you love, she’s doing the exact same thing as him with music. She kept pursuing a career in music because of how much her songs helped other people, and she thought she could help more by volunteering at the ranch. But as shown by her singing for the two teenage girls, music keeps finding a way to pull her back in. What I’m hoping Scarlett is starting to realize it that she doesn’t have to be a country singer to play music; she can just play because she loves it. She clearly loves music, just not performing. She doesn’t have to play for others; she can just play for herself.

Some stray thoughts:
- It seems really weird that there wasn’t more follow up in this episode after Juliette left without saying good-bye, or even telling Avery she was going to Bolivia for two weeks. All viewers got was a throwaway line about how Avery still hasn’t heard from Juliette. Wouldn’t or shouldn’t he have been more upset about his non-wife jetting off to South America for two weeks without even telling him? Or has Avery just become so used to Juliette’s antics that nothing she does no longer surprises him.
- While we didn’t see a lot of Maddie this episode, we see that she is still putting Jonah above everything and everyone else in her life. I have a feeling this is going to end badly for everyone involved. At least she still had time to grab coffee with Daphne and talk things through, so she hasn’t completely gone off the deep end yet.
- Maddie also compares Deacon and Jessie’s relationship to that of Rayna and Luke’s. I had never thought about it in those terms, but it sort of fits.

So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. Did Deacon approach the Jessie and Daphne situation the right way? Should that conversation have happened episodes ago? How long before Gunnar and Alannah’s non-relationship implodes? What’s with Will’s attitude toward Alannah? Why is Scarlett incapable of minding her own business?

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